Physics 9HE is a continuation of the basic introduction to quantum mechanics covered in 9HC. While 9HC was primarily focused on the basics of 1-dimensional potential wells and stationary states, 9HE broadens the horizons of the topic quantum mechanics both in the formalism and in applications, the primary of which is the hydrogen atom.
- There are many well-worn concepts related to quantum-mechanics: wave-particle duality, the uncertainty principle, and collapse of the wave function, to name but a few. Rather than explore each of these, our approach will be to step back and approach the subject from a more abstract perspective. While this may seem like a frightening prospect at first, the idea is that acquiring a "big picture" viewpoint in this way will make it easier to sort out details as they come along.
- As useful as one-dimensional models are for understanding quantum mechanics, additional dimensions presents some new issues that need to tackled if we are to be able to use this subject in the real world.
- The simplicity of the hydrogen atom (one electron, one proton) gives it the distinction of being solvable more-or-less exactly with the tools provided by quantum mechanics. Perhaps more important than the solution itself is the insight we gain from this solution, which allows us to explain (though not with the precision of hydrogen) so many other phenomena, such as the structure of the periodic table.
- With some understanding of stationary states of quantum systems, we now explore how these states transition from one another and how separate quantum systems exchange energy with each other.
- The quantum state of a system is not limited to systems of single particles. We now explore how to handle systems of multiple particles, especially when they are indistinguishable from each other.
- We now embark of a whirlwind tour of a few special topics in physics. To fully do these justice, much more sophistication is needed, but what we have learned in quantum mechanics is sufficient to give us a taste of what these fields are about. We begin with a look at large subfield of what is called "condensed matter physics."
- After treating the atomic nucleus as nothing more than the "origin" for orbiting electrons, we now take a peek inside.